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NDP says Tories break promise to Vancouver Island fishing industry

Fisheries and Oceans Critic Fin Donnelly is calling on Stephen Harper and Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Keith Ashfield to honour their promise to local fishermen on Vancouver Island.

Last spring, the Prime Minister campaigned on Vancouver Island, promising that quotas for the recreational and commercial fisheries in 2012 would be announced by the end of 2011. That has not yet happened.

Traditionally, the recreational halibut season has opened on February 1st. Today is Feb. 1, and the fishing industry is still waiting,” said Donnelly. “The recreational fishery is an important boost to the economy. Many jobs and small businesses rely on this fishery along the BC coast, but the Conservatives’ inaction has caused a great deal of uncertainty for the industry.”

Donnelly wrote to Fisheries Minister Ashfield requesting the department immediately provide information on both the opening of the recreational halibut season as well as any changes to the halibut quota. Donnelly’s letter follows up on a letter from MP Randall Garrison (Esquimalt – Juan de Fuca) last month which also urged the Minister to take action.

“I have met with local fishers, guides and fishing lodge operators who are awaiting word on the opening,” said Garrison. “I have requested a meeting with the Minister regarding this issue, and my request has been denied. Why is the government withholding information and hurting this important industry?”

To keep commercial fishermen, tourism operators and sportsfishers hanging like this is unacceptable,” said Donnelly. “The Minister needs to stop playing games and announce an opening as promised.”

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans website states that the recreational halibut fishery is “closed until further notice.”

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